Situated on a volcanic plug at the head of a crag-and-tail feature at the centre of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Castle has a dominating position overlooking the capital city, the grandeur and historical significance of Edinburgh Castle has made it a globally famous icon of Scotland and part of the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh World Heritage Site.
Within the confines of the Castle, there is much to see. It was the seat (and regular refuge) of Scottish Kings, and the historical apartments include the Great Hall, which now houses an interesting collection of weapons and armour.
The Royal apartments include a tiny room in which Mary, Queen of Scots gave birth to the boy who was to become King James VI of Scotland and James 1 of England upon the death of Queen Elizabeth in 1603. The ancient Honours of Scotland - the Crown, the Sceptre and the Sword of State - are on view in the Crown Room. Nearby is the Scottish National War Memorial, a building designed and created shortly after the First World War; many who enter find the experience a moving one.
Edinburgh Castle is also the home of the One O'Clock Gun. This is fired every day except Sunday at precisely 1.00pm to provide everyone with an accurate check for their clocks and watches. It will certainly startle you if you are anywhere near the Castle at that moment!
The Castle Esplanade is the venue of the world-famous Edinburgh Military Tattoo, the annual occasion on which, over a period of three weeks in August, the Army presents a lively programme of music, marching and historical re-enactments under floodlights before large and appreciative audiences.
The site of the castle was probably first occupied in the Iron Age, although the first documented record comes from the 6th Century. St Margaret, the wife of Malcolm III, died in the castle in 1093. The oldest building in all Edinburgh is to be found within the Castle precincts. It is St. Margaret's Chapel, a tiny Norman building which has been standing there intact for more than 900 years. It has survived all the sieges and bombardments to which the fortress on the rock was subjected during that period. On several occasions the castle was razed - but the demolishers invariably spared the chapel of the good St Margaret because of its religious significance. Today, members of the castle garrison still have the right to be married within the Chapel.
Before leaving the Esplanade, look in the north-east corner for a small iron wall-fountain; it is popularly known as the Witches' Well, and it commemorates the grim fact that, centuries ago, many women held to be guilty of witchcraft were put to death at the stake on this spot.
To the north, between the Castle and the Firth of Forth, the spectator has his first glimpse of Edinburgh's new town. To the east, below the Castle ramparts the visitor is recommended to take a close look at the Old Town.
Open all year seven days a week; opening times vary throughout the year. We recommend at least two hours to see the highlights within the castle.
Tel: +44 (0) 131 225 9846
Every day 09:30 - 20.30
Every day 09:30-19:00. Late opening on public and school holidays: 09.30 - 20.00
|November - March
Every day 10:00 - 18:00Half term holiday (Sat 11/02/12-Sun 19/02/12): 10:00 - 20.00
|April - June
Every day 09:30 - 19:00. Late opening on public and school holidays: 09.30 - 20.00